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Educator Picks

Wrightwood 659 Educators serve as conversation partners, providing points of access for guests through their knowledge and keen observations. In these Educator Picks our staff draws attention to a specific object or gallery section to expand on the exhibition and work within.

Madi Goetzke: "We Shall Defy"

We Shall Defy, created by photojournalist and human rights activist Shahidul Alam, documents decades of political strife in Alam’s home country of Bangladesh. This section of images grimly juxtaposes the feet of three different individuals: one, a close-up of a man’s bare feet laid on pavement; next, ultra-wealthy businessman Moosa Bin Shamsar proudly seated in a chair wearing diamond-encrusted shoes; and lastly, a photograph of a migrant worker’s worn boots. Motifs of this kind examine three sides of class struggle in Bangladesh. Perspective in each photograph highlights these differences. Details in the first photograph emphasize the grime, sweat, and calloused soles of the subject’s feet. The second photo, providing glimpses of Shamsar’s lavish home, seats the viewer just below his gaze and power. In grayscale, the third photo evokes a reality unimaginable in Shamsar’s colorful world: shoes falling apart from strenuous labor. What is perhaps most striking about Alam’s project is what is absent: curatorial wall text. We Shall Defy entirely self-defines each scene by Alam’s self-captioned photographs framed within a traditionally Bangladeshi-style narrative. As such, Alam traces the evolution of photography as a journalistic tool to articulate the lived experiences of Bangladeshi people outside of a Western viewpoint.

Madi Goetzke (she/they) is an Oberlin College ’21 Art History graduate interested in anti-racist and accessible art education programming, global contemporary art, and cultural heritage studies.

Close up photo of bare feet covered in callouses
Man wearing a suit seated in a chair with diamonds on his shoes
Photo of worn out leather work boots

Jake Planer: Garrick Theatre Protest Signs

The Chicago Sun-Times originally reported on the protest in opposition to the destruction of the Garrick theatre under the headline, “Culture Walks the Picket Line.” In the black and white photo, famous architectural preservationist and photographer Richard Nickel can be seen leading a picket line carrying large signs, with statements like, DO WE DARE SQUANDER CHICAGO’S GREAT ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE. The simple white posters with bold black lettering stand out among the protesters, curious onlooking Chicagoans and the now destroyed Garrick Theatre in the background. The group of protesters include many architectural professors and preservationists from IIT calling for Mayor Daley to stop the demolition of the crumbling run-down Garrick Theatre. Every poster has its own unique flair to it, with different hand-writing and sizing, however each captures the urgency and the spirit/enthusiasm in wanting to save the infamous Sullivan building. The picket signs make bold provocative statements and theoretical questions towards the public urging for a call to action. The stack of protest posters photographed by Richard Nickel serve as a reminder of the collective unity and fight of the many Chicago architectural preservationists to remind the public that, “The effect of any genius is seldom seen in his lifetime.” – Frank Lloyd Wright.

Jake Planer (he/him) is a graduate of the Art History Department at the University of Chicago interested in architecture, arts education, and social issues.

protest sign that reads
combined image of several signs protesting the demolition of the Garrick Theatre

Ben Planer: Buffalo Pottery

The Larkin Company, of Buffalo, NY, began in 1875 with a single line of soap products. The enterprise grew quickly, offering an ever-wider variety of mail-order soap items while employing an innovative business practice—consumer premiums with every purchase. Demand for Larkin Company products and the increasingly attractive premiums, which included towels, clothing, lamps, furniture, decorative pottery and more, led to the creation of Buffalo Pottery, a successful offshoot manufacturer and, the subject of this Educator Pick: Buffalo Pottery. Founded in 1901, the Pottery produced such popular premium lines as Deldare Ware, Multifleure, Rouge Lamelle, and charming day-of-the-week plates. The company even made the tableware—pink plates emblazoned with the Larkin logo—used by the restaurant situated inside the impressive Larkin Administration Building. The pottery-works themselves were housed in the Larkin Pottery Building, noted for being the world’s largest fireproofed pottery plant and the first to be operated completely by electricity. While the building was demolished in 1950, Buffalo Pottery remained in business under the name Buffalo China, Inc. until 1983. Buffalo Pottery items are now highly sought-after collectibles.

Ben Planer is a recent undergraduate from the University of Chicago with a degree in Art History interested in architecture, socially-focused arts, arts education, photography, prints, and literature. Ben loves to run when the when the weather is nice.

close up of Larkin brand dinner plates
display of Larkin pottery, dishes
display of Larkin pottery, dishes

Jin Lee: Garrick Theatre Ornament

Louis Sullivan used intricate ornamentation to embellish Dankmar Adler’s profound acoustical engineering in the Garrick Theatre. Pieces of the plaster castings in the decorative frieze were about 2 feet by 3 feet. When Richard Nickel, John Vinci, and David Norris salvaged the elements of the Garrick theatre during demolition in 1961, they discovered thick layers of paint from decades of renovation ranging from muddy pink, cream yellow and charcoal covering the original Sullivan designs. While preserving the ornamentation, they also removed sections of the plaster walls at the request of Crombie Taylor who worked with a small team to take off the surface paint with fine sandpaper in order to reveal the original colors of the hand painted stenciling underneath. In our current exhibition, Romanticism to Ruin, reproductions of the plaster ornamentation and stencils are displayed on the second floor, while documentation of the stencil recovery process is sophistically presented on the third floor.

Jin Lee is an artist and a printmaker who graduated from the School of  the Art Institute of Chicago, Printmedia Department.

view of reproduced architectural ornamentation displayed in gallery
architectural ornamentation fragments displayed on gallery wall
view of reproduced architectural ornamentation displayed in gallery

Trevor Dineen: The Garrick Theatre Model

Over a period of several months, John Vinci and Angela Demma guided Professor William Maryniak and his IIT students—including myself—through a complex modeling of the Garrick Theatre for Wrightwood 659’s exhibition Romanticism to Ruin. The first step in the model making process was to analyze and simplify the recreated Garrick Theatre architectural drawings, made by John Vinci, into drawings that represent the model making materials and the assemblage of the model itself. Once this was completed, the next step was to start to configure study models to understand the joinery of the model, the scale the ornamentation needed to be represented, and which details could be voided to make a cohesive model. At this point an in-person discourse with John Vinci was had to discuss the importance of the Garrick Theatre and the nuanced details of the model itself such as thicknesses of ornamentation, depth to window sills, and diameters of columns. From this point, production on the final model began. Using our simplified drawings, minor adjustments were made to conform to the final model making material, acrylic sheets. Laser cutting and 3D printing began followed by final assembly, sanding, priming, and final coats of paint were applied.

Trevor is a fourth year architecture student at Illinois Institute of Technology. An aspiring architectural designer and artist, interested in temporality and spatiality, Trevor continues to challenge the built environment and its implications on the world around us as he concludes his studies.

scale model of Garrick Theatre building displayed in front of large photo of Garrick Theatre facade
close up of architectural detail on Garrick Theatre scale model
close up of architectural detail on Garrick Theatre scale model

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